Cats began to appear on objects, such as jewelry, clothing, mirror handles, etc. The Nile valley is one of the most fertile regions of the world, and it has been supporting human habitation since almost 9,000 years. Several archaeological remains point towards the domestication of cats in Ancient Egypt. In a battle between Persians and Egyptians, the former captured a large number of cats to use them against the latter. Because domestic cats were known for their mysterious and secretive nature and also possessed an ability to see in the dark, Bast and all her earthly manifestations came to be associated with the Underworld―the realm of the dead. Ancient Egyptians worshipped many animals for thousands of years. Safe Haven Egypt is a volunteer-run cat sanctuary that has been operating in Cairo since 2015. Unfortunately the most are abandoned and homeless, they are treated badly by the owners or the bystanders. Two major cat lineages contributed to the domestic feline we know today, they report in a study published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Owing to the cat’s status as a guardian, it was then regarded as the sacred guardian of the Underworld. While all the other ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses are depicted in the form of big cats―mainly lions―only Goddess Bast was represented as a domestic cat. The ancient Egyptian law forbade the killing of cats, except of course for sacrificial purposes. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. Bast was known as the cat goddess in Egypt. Animals were revered for different reasons. Find vets, rescue teams, shops and pet services in your local area. There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. Bastet’s feline associations began to change around the same time as cats (known as miu or miit—he, or she, who mews) were being domesticated in Egypt… Facts about Egyptian Cats 3: Bast. One such aspect is the peculiar relationship that the ancient Egyptians shared with felines―cats in particular. Bastet was extremely popular throughout Egypt with b… https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/cats-rule-in-ancient-egypt.html. Ancient Egyptian relief in Edfu Temple ( Wikimedia Commons ) These cats, however, were not as cats appear today—at least not at first. Cats were called Mau in Ancient Egypt, and initially the animals attained an important place as the protectors of the country’s grain, as they killed rodents and snakes. In a battle between Persians and Egyptians, the former captured a large number of cats to use them against the latter. There were more than 300,000 mummified cats in the temple - further proved that they were sacred in ancient Egypt. Ancient Cat in Today's Egypt Bastet was a goddess who could become a cat. However, the Egyptian Pharaohs sent their soldiers to recapture their cats. Owing to this, cats came to be regarded as protectors of evil by the ancient Egyptians, and were domesticated by them. The Ancient Egyptians had Bastet and Sekhmet among other feline deities, and cats were even held in higher regard than men, drawing from the fact that harming a cat was an act punishable by death. Next time you see a cat, think about its connection to ancient Egypt. “I am fascinated by cats,” Amr Mohamed, an 11-year-old boy said. The cult at Bubastis became so huge during this time, that the name of the city became almost synonymous with the name of the goddess. The worship of cats in Egypt has been a topic of fascination for many cat owners and lovers. In 390 CE, cat worship in Egypt was officially banned by the Roman empire. The ancient Egyptians admired cats for their friendly, playful, and intelligent traits. The Egyptians worshiped a huge pantheon of gods and goddesses, with the inclusion of various sacred animals. The punishment for killing or harming (even accidentally) even a stray cat in Egypt was death. The latter one had the lion head while Bast has the cathead. There is ample historical and archaeological evidence to show that the cat was, indeed, an integral part of a standard ancient Egyptian household. As a sign of mourning, the cat owners shaved off their eyebrows, and continued to mourn until their eyebrows grew back. Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. Cat, as a divinity, then came to be associated with fertility and motherhood, alongside her older domain of protection against evil. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. Today, we know how highly cats were respected because of the mourning practices when they died and the mummification of cats. The Best History Museums to Virtually Tour During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Virtual Reality Experiences That Let You See History Up Close, The Most Accurate Movies Based on History Worth Seeing, Subaru History: How the Japanese Manufacturer Become World-Famous, Porsche History: From Humble Beginnings to High-Powered Luxury, How to Become a History Teacher: A Brief Guide to the Responsibilities and Requirements, Houston History: From Independence to the Modern Day. Located at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, the land of Egypt comprises hot, sandy deserts crossed by the ever-meandering Nile that constantly makes its way into the Mediterranean sea. Owing to the rising importance of the city, the cult of Bast also became increasingly popular throughout the land. They Loyally Join Along in Activities. The trend among the ancient Egyptians to domesticate cats may have begun when they realized the potential of these felines in safeguarding their food supplies. Sign up to receive the latest and greatest articles from our site automatically each week (give or take)...right to your inbox. Cats were highly regarded in Ancient Egypt, which is evidenced by the overwhelming presence of cats in Egyptian art. Moreover, various DNA comparisons also suggest that many species of modern cats may have been descended from the Egyptian wildcat (Felis silvestris catus). She also protected humans from venomous animals, and since venomous creatures, such as snakes and scorpions were (and are) in abundance in the Egyptian desert, the goddess had an important place in the pantheon. Seeing their revered felines running haphazardly across the battlefield, the Egyptians chose to surrender, rather than killing the cats. 6789 Quail Hill Pkwy, Suite 211 Irvine CA 92603. Bast was known as the goddess of motherhood and fertility. Whereas cats were an object of reverence, the most widely found pet in pet friendly Egypt was the dog. Upon its excavation, cats were among the first things that the scientists noticed. In ancient Egypt, there were two different primary breeds: one the fierce jungle cats, the other the more peaceful African wildcats. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. In the absence of enough evidence, it is rather difficult to estimate exactly when cats began to be domesticated, but we know for sure that the ancient Egyptians did have pet cats. Cats likely became so entwined with Egyptian life for practical reasons: Agriculture attracted rodents, which attracted wild cats. Learn about how cats were honored in Ancient Egypt. Dogs were valued for their ability to protect and hunt, but cats were thought to be the most special. Pets for Sale in Egypt. Cats, however, occupied a special space in Ancient Egypt. Even the export of cats was prohibited by law in Ancient Egypt, but they were often smuggled by Phoenician traders to be sold in the Mediterranean countries. Cat wasn’t the only sacred animal in Egypt. The cult of the cat, as it was known, was functional in Egypt right since the 16th century BCE. Dogs were valued for their ability to protect and hunt, but cats were thought to be the most special. One of the most obvious evidences showing that cats were, indeed, the most domesticated animals in Ancient Egypt comes from the period between 2,000-1,000 BCE, from the desert on the outskirts of the town of Beni Hasan, an ancient Egyptian cemetery site. Fittingly, a bust of Sakhmet is the first object that greets visitors as they enter "Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt," an exhibition of Egyptian cat … What is surprising is that all these pet cats were never named, they were just cats. December 6, 2007—Egyptian Maus may descend from the first domesticated cats in the world. Cats in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of ancient Egypt for more than 3,000 years. Cats were held in very high esteem by the ancient Egyptians. If we consider lions as cats, the cult of the Lion-headed Goddess, Sekhmet, was prominent. I do not own the content of this video all credit goes to National Geographic. Cats were a popular pet in ancient Egypt and closely associated with the goddess Bastet (also known as Bast) who appears in Egyptian art with the body of a woman and the head of a cat or as a sitting cat in a regal pose. Owing to this, the cult’s reach and popularity declined to a great extent. Herodotus wrote that in Ancient Egypt, the pet cat was considered as another member of the family. Animals were revered for different reasons. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. A mummified cat is one of the grave goods that has been abundantly found in tombs, especially of nobility and the royalty. Middle Eastern species of cats were domesticated in Egypt about 10,000 years ago and while various other animals were also considered sacred, cats had a special status among those animals. However, the culmination of the cult came about only by the 8th century BCE, when Sheshonq I (or Sheshonq I), the founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty developed Bubastis into an important city. Ancient Egyptian cats had a sacred status in because of the religious beliefs of Egyptian society. Cats in ancient Egypt were mummified and buried in large quantities, hence held a special place in the culture of Ancient Egypt. Cats Rule in Ancient Egypt. Today cats can be seen throughout Egypt, wandering in bazaars or asleep in shaded courtyards, evidence of an enduring relationship with humans that this book warmly captures. The sanctity of felines in Egypt’s ancient times traces back to the belief that these animals have divine powers given by Bastet herself. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. According to Herodotus, the population of cats in and around the temple of Bubastis was so large that, in order to control it, these felines were regularly sacrificed to the goddess. These, according to archaeologists, were apparently domesticated cats, as people would not otherwise take trouble to go in the wild, look for dead cats, and mummify them. Seeing their revered felines running haphazardly across the battlefield, the Egyptians chose to surrender, rather than killing the cats. In the city of Per-Bast, a beautiful temple was built, and people came from all over to experience its splendor. As we know from archeological evidence, cats … Hartwig wants to make one thing clear, though: Egyptians did not worship cats, but they did believe that cats held a bit of divine energy within them. Wild cats are now known to have lived among the people of Mesopotamia over 100,000 years ago and to have been domesticated there approximately 12,000 BCE at about the same time as dogs, sheep, and goats. But, they were also held in high esteem for their aloofness and mysterious characteristics. Some Egyptian role models in dealing with animals Amr Mohamed feeding stray cats – Egypt Today/Hend Safwat Mercy doesn’t exist among adults only, but it also exists among children as well. Each year, a festival was held at Bubastis in honor of the goddess, and people from every nook and corner of Egypt, flocked to the place. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. Archaeologists suggest that the ancient Egyptians may have developed a sort of symbiotic relationship with wildcats, which hunted down all the threats to supplies of food. Ancient Egyptians worshipped many animals for thousands of years. Facts about Egyptian Cats 4: the role of Bast. The ancient Egyptians have left a huge legacy of their material remains, which has helped us understand numerous interesting aspects of their life and culture. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information. How Ancient Egypt’s beloved cats helped our feline friends colonise the planet. The most widespread belief was that domestic cats carried the divine essence of Bastet (or Bast), the cat-headed goddess who represented fertility, domesticity, music, dance and pleasure. Though they are no longer worshiped in the manner they used to be, cats are still loved the world over as pets and for their mouse-hunting skills. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Cats were so special that those who killed them, even by accident, were sentenced to death. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. One woman is working to help save them. Egyptians believed cats were magical creatures, capable of bringing good luck to the people who housed them. We hope you enjoy this website. Our site includes quite a bit of content, so if you're having an issue finding what you're looking for, go on ahead and use that search feature there! Slowly and steadily, as the cult flourished even beyond Bubastis, the cat became a very important and common, sacred motif. We've created informative articles that you can come back to again and again when you have questions or want to learn more! 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